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I understand that US lawyers sometimes recruit interpreters for the hearing of witnesses, not only in the USA but also in Europe.

How does it work? Is interpreting consecutive or simultaneous? Is it recorded? How do you prepare?

asked 02 Dec '11, 04:32

Angela's gravatar image


edited 25 Feb '12, 12:56

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

Having interpreted hundreds of depositions myself (all consecutive) my advice is to get sufficient information on the language skills of the witness and the foreseeable duration of the deposition per day, since this basically determines the team strength.

With witnesses who need everything interpreted and days where the attorneys want to have “6-7 hours on the clock” (official deposition time - breaks come on top) we insist on 3 interpreters who will take turns of 20 – 30 minutes and help each other.

Please do not forget to charge Copyright Fees! Whatever is recorded either by a court reporter or on tape or video will be used again and again - also in court – so copyright is justified!

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answered 16 Apr '12, 06:22

AlmuteL's gravatar image


edited 20 Apr '12, 19:34

+1 Great practical answer

(16 Apr '12, 07:33) Vincent Buck

For more information you might like to read this article in AIIC's webzine:

Interpreting Depositions: A Fact Sheet

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answered 17 Jan '12, 13:24

Luigi's gravatar image


edited 17 Jan '12, 14:46

Luigi, I did not notice you had recommended the article and suggested the same thing.

(25 Feb '12, 19:48) Vero

I wrote an article on how to interpret depositions that you can read at

I hope you find it useful.

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answered 25 Feb '12, 12:52

Vero's gravatar image


...forgot the reference, albeit in the title only, to arbitration :-): that's a much more diverse kettle of fish!

They come in all shapes and sizes, from local to international, ranging from mainly monolingual with the odd witness or party needing interpretation, to wall-to-wall language mediation with two or three languages - never more than three, in my experience, but more could conceivably be involved.

Subject-matter varies enormously, although the framework is always two (or more) parties bound by a contract on goods or services and a difference of opinion as to obligations enshrined therein, subject to an arbitration clause and a choice of applicable law.

It can be consecutive/whispered or full-blown simultaneous, can last for anything between a couple of hours to a couple of weeks...actually the latter is one of my fondest financial memories :-) insofar as there we were in a foreign capital on the 1st day of what was supposed to be two weeks worth of booth work, only to be told that the principals (two global concerns who had several such differences of opinion up before arbitration tribunals scattered all over the world) were meeting in another capital to try and come to a general agreement... and we were recommended to enjoy the local museums, a suggestion that was repeated on the morning of day 2 and, after lunch, we were given the joyous news that an agreement had been reached and the tribunal was adjourned. Believe it or not, I then had to deploy all my persuasive powers to stop them from paying us PD's for the whole fortnight, which they strenuously insisted on doing because "they had been budgeted for"...! :-)

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answered 06 Dec '11, 09:41

msr's gravatar image


edited 15 Apr '12, 08:25

...and likewise, here as well?

(25 Feb '12, 15:26) msr

They do indeed... and have been foolhardy enough to recruit me locally on several occasions :-).

It's always been consecutive, not recorded but taken down by an American certified court stenographer, privately hired - and flown over - by the lawyers for the purpose, like myself.

I was always asked to sign a form stating who I was and what my qualification were,and wherein I pledged to carry out my duties to the best of my professional abilities.

Like for any other assignment, I prepare as best I can, insisting on being sent as many relevant docs as possible for careful perusal (and, being sent the first, usually asking for more by name, having found the pertinent references in that first one) and by researching the subject-matter... having read Law also helps :-).

Pour la petite histoire (but there's a moral, always make sure you understand and underscore the language set-up) well do I remember an EN<>SP occasion (which I shared with an SP:A colleague)when listening to what what was being said and interpreted in both languages, one of the lawyers suddenly zeroed in on the reported utterance of an original command which, as it happened, had been uttered - and acted upon - in Greek and was thus duly reproduced in that language, as prompted ... which, much to our regret and the lawyer's surprise, we were unable to understand or interpret: the only one present who could understand and interpret happened to be the other witness and other side of the conversation in question, whose fateful command was supposed to have been - accurately? - heard and acted upon by our guy! :-)

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answered 02 Dec '11, 17:44

msr's gravatar image


edited 15 Apr '12, 08:26

...may I be told, for my CPD, why was my answer voted down?

(25 Feb '12, 15:25) msr

...hellooo? :-) Vincent, despite my having received an automated email saying you had accepted this answer of mine (I'm afraid I'm uncertain as to what exactly this means...?) my "karma history" also says you down-voted these two answers of mine... would you be as kind as to shed some light? TIA :-) Lest I'm told I should ask this through "meta", I'm afraid it no longer recognises me, which I mentioned via a heretofore unanswered msg :-)

(01 Mar '12, 08:28) msr

I downvoted on formal grounds only for the following reasons:

One: 2 answers from you instead of one. That's twice the work for your readers. Editing and improving your initial answer would have been better.

Second. Your answers are very often composed of large blocks of text and difficult to scan. Consider chunking for better readability. See

Third. Your copy is often difficult to parse quickly thanks to a great number of interpolations. To improve readability, stylistic device is best avoided on this site. I find Orwell's rules for writers very sound guidance for this site. See

BTW, participation in requires that you create an account there as well. The two sites do not share account information.

(07 Mar '12, 15:13) Vincent Buck

Thank you very much, Vincent , for your clarification: I do agree that merging both answers would have been better, in theory... but I decided not to, so as not to end up with too big a single one... and I do edit my contributions, as the logs show, as best I know how to.

I am familiar with Orwell's rules and do try to apply them but it's not always easy to go against my personal style, woe is me and such as it is after all my successive language layers and writing in a non-mother tongue; as to chunking, I likewise strive :-) - your link has a dot too many but I sussed it out and was able to get there.

I did create a META account and was able to log in several times until I wasn't, for some inexplicable reason :-), as I reported via a msg sent through that site as a non-logged in user.

Anyway, I was under the impression that my meaning still showed through my non-fully-orwellian, non-fully-chunked prose ;-) and hoped that content would make up for less than perfect form... but insofar as that is patently not the case, in your view, I'll stop inflicting either on ii and wish it all the best :-).

(07 Mar '12, 16:40) msr
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question asked: 02 Dec '11, 04:32

question was seen: 9,747 times

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